North American Birds

VOLUME 69 NO3 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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V O L U M E 6 9 ( 2 0 1 6 ) • N U M B E R S 3 / 4 349 T H E C H A N G I N G S E A S O N S : R E T R O S P E C T cauta); and the Great-winged was a Gray- faced (Pterodroma gouldi). And all have been observed in North American waters since 1996. White-chinned Petrel has now been documented once from Maine (2010) and four times off California (2009, twice in 2011, and 2015). White-capped Albatross has been photographed off northern Califor- nia (August 1999), off Washington (January 2000), and off Oregon (October 2001). And Gray-faced Petrel, following the 1996 Marin County records, has been documented three times in Monterey Bay (1998, 2010, and 2011) and from shore, a bird off Point La Jolla, San Diego County on 18 December 2012! And in the two decades since 1996, new tubenoses have appeared on the con- tinent's checklist, among them Salvin's Al- batross and Chatham Albatross (both splits from Shy Albatross, with two records each), Juan Fernández Petrel (Arizona!), Provi- dence Petrel, Zino's Petrel (documented in row, Alaska (now called Utqiagvik) is the last stop, as for an Eastern Phoebe there 24 May. Each species considered above has a unique natural history, and each species' responses to the warming climate are part and parcel of that spe- cific life history. Twenty years ago, we were also considering a more metaphoric "rise of the South," not just a lon- gitudinal northward shift in bird records per se but a realization that oceans were changing as well and that tropical and south- ern-hemisphere seabirds virtually unknown in our area of coverage were sud- denly being documented; and some seemed, if not common, then perhaps regular components of the avifauna. Some of these were "false vagrants" (as Howell et al. 2014 call them): they were probably present all along, just not yet known to be present. These certainly include "Dark-rumped Petrel" (now split; Hawaiian Petrels, it seems, in North American wa- ters), which was boldfaced 20 years ago, as the first records were made for Pacific coast states, and Fea's Petrel (then newly split), also boldfaced, and very much a discovery of the 1990s in the western North Atlan- tic. We now know much more about these gadfly petrels than we did twenty years ago, thanks to increases in pelagic birding trips (including aboard cruise ships), seawatch - ing, deepwater surveys by scientists, and more recently the use of satellite transmitters and other technology. These two species still provide a thrill when encountered, as they should, but we know that North American waters are part of the normal range of both. 1996 was also the year for rarer south- ern tubenoses offshore, including a White- chinned Petrel off North Carolina, a Shy Albatross off Oregon, and Great-winged Petrel off California. All three of these spe- cies have been split since that time: the White-chinned was of the nominate sub- species rather than Spectacled; the Shy was a White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche od, and its primary habitats, coastal salt and brackish marshes, have changed relatively little in composition, though thousands of square kilometers of marsh have been lost to rising sea levels in recent decades. The 1990s also saw the beginning of a trend toward more northerly nesting and vagrancy in Vermilion Flycatcher (Figure 7), a species at which few birders turn up the nose. Expansion in Texas and Oklaho- ma began in the 1980s, and New Mexico and Colorado also began then, picking up steam in the 1990s, when vagrant records spiked as well, particularly along the Mis- sissippi, the Atlantic coast, and around the Great Lakes. Fifteen years ago, Karen Ben- son and Keith Arnold (2001) suggested that the species in Texas is an irregular breeder at the eastern and northern margins of its range and that "isolated pairs are prone to periodic or episodic breeding attempts well outside the normal range." They sug- gested that the claimed range extensions most likely indicate instead that "an in- creased number of observers are reporting these isolated breeding attempts with more regularity." This is potentially true, but with much more data now available, the matter bears closer investigation—one of many papers that beg to be written for this and other journals (and Black Phoebe's north- ward expansion would make for excellent comparison). The gradual eastward expansion of Clay- colored Sparrow's range, into New York, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes, has been attributed to logging and farming activities, in particular to the succession of abandoned land and to planting of conifers. A westward expansion into British Columbia over the second half of the twentieth century is less well known among birders. And al - most overlooked in the longitudinal expan - sion has been the latitudinal, the northward component of the expansion, perhaps also a function of anthropogenic modification of landscapes but consistent with projections for shifting ranges during the era of warm- ing. This year, for the first time, the species was detected potentially nesting in Alaska (Figure 8), perhaps a pair prospecting from British Columbia but potentially also from Yukon or even Northwest Territories, where recent records reach north to Norman Wells. Next stop, the coast of the Arctic Ocean? Southern species showing long-term northward vagrancy, pioneering, and breed- ing range expansion are running out of high- latitude land areas at which to impress. Bar- Figure 12. The first Magnificent Hummingbird for British Columbia, this male was photographed at a feeder in Bridge Lake in the Thompson region 4 July 2015. Photograph by Yvonne Llewellyn.

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